Trump to announce Paris climate change decision Thursday
By Yao Nian

2017-06-01 15:00 GMT+8

‍US President Donald Trump is to announce his decision on Thursday whether Washington will remain part of the historic Paris Agreement climate deal, as international allies and domestic opponents lashed out at media reports he is planning to withdraw from the accord.

The White House did not confirm reports, but Trump tweeted on Wednesday evening that he would announce his decision in the Rose Garden at 3 p.m. Thursday, ending months of speculation. 

Signed in December 2015 by almost 200 countries, the Paris Agreement is aimed at sharply reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The US pledged to cut carbon emissions by 26-28% within a decade after signing the accord.

Internal debates

The administration has been divided for months on climate change, with the leave sentiment of Trump's chief strategist Stephen Bannon appearing to have the upper hand over the remain view of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Ivanka Trump, reported The New York Times. 

However, Trump said, "I'm hearing from a lot of people both ways." Trump met with Tillerson on Wednesday afternoon, a day after his meeting with Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt, a key voice for leave.

White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer said in a briefing Wednesday afternoon that he wasn't sure whether Trump had made a final decision. "When the President has a decision he will make the announcement and he will make it clear what the basis of that is."

Nick Burns, a former undersecretary of state during George W. Bush's administration, warned withdrawal would devastate the US' international credibility as it is one of the world's largest carbon emitters and one of the countries that put the Paris deal together.

Global attitudes

Regardless of how US climate policies change, Chinese President Xi Jinping has promised that China will remain committed to the agreement and move ahead with steps to control climate change. He also encouraged other countries to stick to their commitments.

In a telephone call with French President Emmanuel Macron in early May, Xi said China and France "should protect the achievements of global governance, including the Paris Agreement."

President Xi Jinping delivers a speech at the opening of the World Climate Change Conference at Le Bourget, France, on November 30, 2015. /VCG Photo

G7 leaders—Germany, France, Japan, Canada, the UK and Italy--have expressed frustration at Trump's refusal to sign onto a supportive statement for the Paris pact and urged the president to remain within the accord after the summit in Sicily concluded on Sunday.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres speaks on climate change at New York University's Stern School of Business, in New York on May 30, 2017. /VCG Photo

Leaders of the UN and European Commission have also expressed their displeasure over Trump's twitter post and reiterated support for the Paris accord. "It is absolutely essential that the world implements the Paris Agreement…" said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

"Mr Trump believes that because he doesn't get close enough to the dossiers to fully understand them. It would take three to four years after the agreement came into force in November 2016 to leave the agreement," said Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission President.